Halford Discusses Legislative Session at Chamber Forum
HUNTINGDON (February 10) — State Representative Curtis Halford, who represents Gibson County and a portion of Carroll, was the featured speaker at the first of three legislative briefing hosted by the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce.
Halford is in his ninth year in the General Assembly.
The representative said the deadline for filing legislative bills for the session was just one day earlier and none of those bills has been assigned to committees. He noted the State of Tennessee is in the best financial condition in years. He credited the leadership of governors Phil Bredesen and Bill Haslam for their conservative leadership in helping achieve that status.
Governor Haslam has proposed an increase in the fuel tax to pay for road maintenance and development. Tennessee is a “pay as you go” state and has no indebtedness on its highways.
Halford said there are more Tennesseans working today than ever before. The state has a triple A bond rating, and a $957 billion surplus. Haslam has proposed to reduce the state portion of sales tax on food by one-half percent along with a reduction in the franchise and excise tax and to accelerate the reduction of the Hall Income Tax to eventually and completely eliminate the tax.
The state hopes to build its rainy day reserve fund and give state employees a pay raise.
An alternate plan being floated is to use one-half cent of the existing sales tax to fund the state’s transportation needs, said Halford.
In the question and answer session, County Commissioner John Mann asked Halford about sponsoring legislation that removes political party labels from the countywide elections in Carroll County. All ten countywide office holders and 20 of 21 county commissioners asked for non-partisan elections. Halford said a sponsor in the State Senate is needed to carry the legislation. State Senator John Stevens will not support the legislation.
Daniel Richardson, publisher of the Carroll County News-Leader questioned Halford whether he supports the proposed reduction in legislative receptions in Nashville. Halford said there are five to six in any one evening. “It gets to be trying at times,” said Halford.
Huntingdon Mayor Dale Kelley said the governor’s broadband legislation needs to be supported to help bring highspeed internet to all of the rural areas.
Carroll County Mayor Kenny McBride said the legislation presently only includes electrical cooperatives providing high-speed internet. That legislation needs to be expanded to also include municipal electric systems, such as Carroll County Electric.
Halford said the legislation was introduced and will undergo many changes.
A student at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology said the firearm carry permit should allow honorably discharged veterans to carry on campuses, such as the TCAT.
Walter Butler, president of Bethel University, said he would prefer to allow universities, such as the privately owned Bethel University, to have the privilege of opting out of the legislation.
Walter Smothers, director of Public Safety for the Town of Huntingdon, said the constitutional carry idea to allow anyone to carry without a permit is a bad idea.
Smothers also expressed his concern for reducing the penalty for possession of marijuana.